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The late Matthew Gallagher of North Falmouth, MA Photo by: New York Daily News

Soldier to be released after one year for killing Irish American comrade in gun game of “quick draw”

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The late Matthew Gallagher of North Falmouth, MA Photo by: New York Daily News

Less than twelve months after he pled guilty to shooting and killing Army Sergeant Matthew Gallagher of North Falmouth, former sergeant Brent McBride is due to appear before a parole board.

Last March at his general court-martial, McBride, 26, of Fairhope, Alabama, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. According to capecodonline.com, he was also demoted from sergeant after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, violation of a general order and dereliction of duty.

McBride reportedly shot Gallagher in the head on June 26, 2011, just a week before Gallagher's twenty-third birthday, in a game of 'quick-draw.'

Gallagher's mother Cheryl Ruggiero told the press she can not understand how her son's killer could be set free so soon.

Ruggiero said that she and Peter Gallagher, Matthew's father, received letters last week alerting them of McBride's February 5 parole hearing in Arlington, Virginia.

Ruggiero said she was shocked to find out that McBride's sentence already had been reduced to three years. She added that that the Army had not informed her family members of the sentence reduction.

'He pushed a gun right up against my son's head and shot him,' said Peter Gallagher, a retired Quincy homicide detective, told the press. 'It's a complete miscarriage of justice.'

Gallagher and other members of his family have long disputed McBride's account of the shooting, which they say conflicts with some of the physical evidence.

In sworn statements following Matthew Gallagher's death while deployed to Al Kut, Iraq, McBride reportedly told the Army's Criminal Investigation Command that he accidentally shot the sergeant, who was his roommate, during a game of quick-draw. The object of the game was allegedly to see who could draw his weapon more quickly on the other.

According to McBride's account, the two were in their shared trailer when he saw Matthew Gallagher load his own and McBride's pistols, chamber a bullet in each and then disengage the safeties. About 10 minutes later, Gallagher pointed one of the pistols at McBride, as part of the game, and asked, "What would you do now?" McBride told the investigation.

McBride said he then jokingly pointed his pistol at Matthew Gallagher from about 6 feet away, not knowing whether the gun was loaded, and pulled the trigger.

But an autopsy ruled that Matthew Gallagher's death was a homicide and concluded that the muzzle of McBride's gun was touching his roommate's head at the time of the shooting, contradicting the distance he claims. Also, only one of the pistols was loaded, with the safety disengaged, when the CID agent found them at the scene.

'It's a military cover-up,' Peter Gallagher told the press. Gallagher believes that McBride's family ties to the Army, which were referenced during his sentencing, has afforded him some leniency. 'I've seen fixes in court before but I've never seen anything like this in my life.'

Meanwhile Gallagher's father wrote a victim impact statement to the parole board concluding that his wife's suicide in June partially stemmed from Matthew Gallagher's death. She placed a picture of him next to her when she hanged herself, he said.

Katie Gallagher, Gallagher junior’s widow, could not be reached by the press for comment.

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